It’s trendy to talk about 3D printing as a “disruptive” technology. Yes, additive manufacturing changes the way that we make things. Instead of subtracting materials to shape objects, manufacturers build products in layers. But 3D printing isn’t just about using a different equipment set. Additive manufacturing, according to one national security expert, could mean retooling your supply chain for a strategic upheaval.
War on the Rocks is a Web-based platform for analysis, commentary, and debate about foreign policy and national security. T.X. Hammes, a Distinguished Research Fellow at the U.S. National Defense University, doesn’t speak for the Department of Defense (DOD), but his recent article about the disruptive nature of 3D printing may interest more than just the Pentagon.
Evolving Supply Chains
As Hammes explains, the rise of 3D printing means that “localized distributed manufacturing will become the norm.” Products will become cheaper and highly customizable, “rendering traditional manufacturing able to compete in only a few areas.” For companies that depend upon old-fashioned manufacturers then, a search for new vendors will accompany product redesigns and investments in additive manufacturing equipment.
How can your company succeed in Hammes’ vision of the future? For starters, you’ll need to find other, local firms to supply what you need. Then, instead of sending large-volume production overseas, you’ll make smaller, customizable quantities right here at home. Hammes’ War on the Rocks article is only a prediction, but is it one that you agree with? If so, is your supply chain strong enough for a strategic upheaval?
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